- Associated Press - Saturday, September 16, 2017

GREENWOOD, S.C. (AP) - Hidden somewhere outside the Greenwood Army Navy Store is an assortment of items, toys and trinkets sealed in an ammo case - a few blocks down the road is another cache at Greenwood Presbyterian Church.

There are hundreds of hidden caches like the one Dawn Callahan hid at the Army Navy Store throughout Greenwood.

Geocaching - a GPS-driven form of scavenger hunting - was big in the Lakelands in years past, but Callahan said it’s rare a new cache pops up on her radar now.

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“Most of the people that are coming out finding them now are out-of-towners coming in,” Callahan said.

Darrell and Lynn Seymour said they first went hunting for geocaches after Darrell started searching “treasure hunting” online and heard about it on the news.

“It came on the news one night and they said something about, ‘There’s a new game out and it’s called geocaching,’ and I’m like, what? ‘It’s a treasure-hunting game,’” Darrell said. “And that caught my ear. But I went away from the TV and when I came back, they had done got off of it. So I made it a fact to stay there until the news came on again.”

They can still remember the first cache they found in December 2008 on Bypass 72, and although the cache isn’t there anymore, they still think about the spark the cache started that inspired them to find more.

“I wanted to go find another,” Lynn said. “And that’s where we went. We went straight from there to the dog pound, the one that was out there.”

Now, the Seymours go to regional mega-geocaching events every year to search for caches and meet up with other geocachers.

“It takes you places that you probably never would go,” Lynn said.

Callahan said she’s found nearly 900 caches and the Seymours have more than 1,000 logged on their profiles.

Geocaching got its start in Oregon in the early 2000s, but the idea has been around for much longer.

Callahan said letterboxing, which has been around for more than 100 years, is a scavenger game where clues lead to a box with a stamp and notebook inside and searchers collect the stamp imprints.

Geocaching differs from letterboxing with its use of technology.

“For me, a good cache either takes me to a cool place or the geocache itself is a cool thing, because some people make them very elaborate,” Callahan said. “If it fits one of those two, then to me, that’s a good geocache.”

Caches can take on nearly any form - ranging from small pill bottles to large boxes - but most typically have at least a piece of paper inside that people can log their name or username on.

Because geocaches can look out of place, Callahan said it’s important to get permission to place a cache on private or business-owned property.

Several years ago, a bypasser noticed a pipe stuck under a bridge in Ware Shoals and called it in to the police, but Callahan said it was simply an inactive geocache.

“Well, it looked like a pipe bomb, and a fisherman saw it on the dam or the bank and thought that it was a pipe bomb,” Callahan said. “They (police) went over there and blew it up, but what it was, it was a deactivated geocache - so shouldn’t have been out there, because if you archive it, you aren’t supposed to leave it out there because then it’s just trash.”

Most geocachers use phone apps such as Geocache or C:Geo to find the hidden items. Caches can be found where the icon or coordinates are on the app or they can be more complex, requiring you to solve a puzzle to find the actual coordinates.

Some caches, called “challenge caches” consist of a trail of hidden geocaches leading to others.

Other caches have trackable items in them that end up travelling the world.

One of the few rules in geocaching is if you take an item out of a cache, you’re supposed to leave something in return.

Callahan remembers a stuffed chick named Pedro that she put in a cache that made its way to Norway.

“He went missing for like, probably over a year and a half somewhere over in Europe. And all of a sudden I got a log saying ‘Pedro,’” Callahan said. “So now Pedro is in Norway traveling over there.”

Callahan and the Seymours have already found every cache still hidden in the Lakelands, but they hope to renew interest so new ones can be hidden.

“Once you’ve done four or five, you’re hooked. That’s it - you’ve got it for the rest of your life,” Darrell said.


Information from: The Index-Journal, https://www.indexjournal.com

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